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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Megastar Tarkan joins campaign to save Hasankeyf

Turkish pop star Tarkan has joined the "Stop Ilısu Dam– Save Hasankeyf" campaign launched by a Turkish nature association to convince local and international institutions to recognize the region as a World Cultural and Natural Heritage site.

Tarkan, one of the most popular singers in Turkey, will open the Hasankeyf office of Doğa Derneği (Nature Association) on May 14, from where the association will continue its scientific work and follow the developments in the region directly.

“Although the Tigris Valley in the southwest of Turkey possess the symbols of 10,000 years of history in Hasankeyf, the invaluable natural and cultural treasures of the world stand to be flooded by the State Waterworks Directorate's Ilisu Dam Project,” said Erkut Ertürk, Doğa Derneği campaign coordinator.

“If the Ilisu Dam project is carried out, the ecological system of the Tigris Valley and the 400-kilometer riverbed will be destroyed forever,” Ertürk said.

Local and international environmental organizations are campaigning for the suspension of the Ilısu Dam project, which is part of the greater Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) that aims to turn the region into Turkey's breadbasket through an irrigation network.

Ilısu Dam, when completed, will flood the town of Hasankeyf, seen as a major cultural and tourism spot.

Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay has said in the past that none of the historical artifacts in the region would be left to be submerged under rising water, but noted that the development of the country and the region was a priority.

The financing of the dam, provided mostly by European backers, is also a source of controversy with serious pressure put on them to withdraw their support.
article taken from Turkish Daily News, Monday, May 12, 2008, Istanbul.